What a difference a month makes! Our little man, Alek, is over a year now and it seems like his development is in overdrive! Suddenly he is imitating words and sounds, sometimes attempting to mount the potty himself, and even having a dry diaper at night-time. What?!?! My EC notebook is chock-full this month, I have so much to report! Also... I finally got around to taking some cute photos of the little guy in some of our back-ups for comparison, so I hope you will enjoy those as well :)
The first week of January was pretty rough. We had a lot of misses, as well as resistance to using the potty, or peeing anywhere for that matter! Our schedule was off after the holidays, and those last two top teeth were still cutting through. But I also suspect that Alek was experimenting as bit as well. It seemed as though he would only pee a little when prompted, and then wait for his diaper or trainers or whatever and promptly finish in there. Poop misses were happening nearly daily as well. Oftentimes I would see a signal (grunting and squatting all alone, typically) - would get him on the potty but he would not poop until his diaper was back on. Or, in a couple of instances, until I left the room and he squatted on the floor. Doh! I have definitely been catching more poops in the potty since that week, but need to remind myself to try pottying him in the "classic EC hold" over the sink or potty when he doesn't "go" after such a clear signal.
About 2 weeks ago, I had a pretty frustrating and hilarious experience that I hope you will enjoy... Alek still usually naps twice per day, once around 10am and again around 3pm. However, on this day he absolutely refused to go down for his morning nap. So, around 11am he was getting pretty loopy. Happy, but loopy. His diaper was dry when I prompted him to use the potty, but he refused to sit on the potty. I had some time to do naked observation, so I left his diaper off after that while he was playing. About 10 mins after the potty attempt, Alek walked over near the front door, squatted down and started to pee on the floor. I said "pee goes in the potty, Alek", and transported him back over to the floor potty. Again, he would not sit on the potty. So I let him walk away and followed him. He walked right back to the same place (thankfully on that black tile floor in these photos), squatted down, and started to pee again! I said "NO! Pee goes in the potty" and lifted him on to the potty a third time. Again, he wouldn't sit, so when he walked back over to the front entrance, I followed him with the potty and put the potty by the door. He started to squat and pee a little, I picked him up and put him on the potty, he stood up. Again. This time I held him in the "Classic EC hold", with my hands under his thighs and his back resting on my chest, over the floor potty so he could finally finish his pee. He did quite a big pee this time, so I thought he was done. Wrong!!
He then walked back into the living room, squatted down on the floor, and let out a little more pee, so I transported him back to the potty. This happened 2 or 3 more times before I finally got him to sit on the potty and look at some books with me. He peed again there. As soon as he got off the potty, he squatted and a little more came out onto the floor. How does he have so much pee?!?! At that point, I put him in a prefold diaper with no cover. and the squatting business stopped for a bit. Hunh.
Amazingly this month he would sometimes respond "Yesh" when I asked him if he needed to go potty. And even more amazing, he would actually pee! There were also several times that he climbed onto the potty himself, but the challenge was getting the training pants off him while not discouraging him from trying to mount the potty.
A note on gear... at this point I am loving using training pants with cotton pants over. They are super-easy to take-off together (leg warmers get in the way with training pants), and hold in 1 full pee fairly well, yet its easy to see and feel as soon as it has happened. What I am not loving is the occasional poop misses in the training pants. Ewwwww! Not fun to clean-up. The funniest poop miss this month though happened while Alek was wearing a diaper-belt and prefold (see photo above), somehow the poop completely bypassed the diaper and landed on the floor! I noticed a big brown blob on the floor and was super-confused since he was still completely covered by the diaper and the diaper was completely clean. What the heck. So beware, diaper belts have their drawbacks. On the other-hand, it is easier to clean poop off the floor then out of training pants... LOL
I am leery of using the split pants with no back-up (see last photo on this post) since we are still having poop misses fairly frequently. Gotta keep my eyes on him in those pants! No matter which of these back-ups we choose though, as he is a new walker, I feel so good about giving him a lot of time NOT wearing a bulky diaper.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I had partially night-weaned Alek and that he was gloriously sleeping longer stretches at night, in his own bed. Well, I take it all back. A few weeks after I posted that, I came down with the flu and at the same time, he started cutting 8 teeth all at once (oh yes, he has 16 teeth now). So, back into my bed he came and back to nursing through the night. DOH. Being sleep deprived once again, and dreading being up for long stretches in the night, Alek remains in our bed. So, I have been using this opportunity to finally do some night-time EC. It has been very interesting, and our experiments continue nightly!
The first night I attempted to potty him was a great success. Alek's diaper was still dry at 3:30am when he woke. After he nursed, he continued to be fussy in the bed, kicking his legs and squirming, so I took off his diaper and carried him down the hall to the bathroom where I attempted to potty him in the sink. He was very fussy and resistant, but after a few moments, he did a huge pee and the went back to sleep very quickly and slept though until 6:30am (he usually wakes for the day at 5 or 5:30am so this was HUGE).
The next night I tried the same routine and took him to the bathroom at 3:30am after he woke. Again he fussed a lot but finally peed. However on this night, it took over an hour for him to fall back asleep after peeing, and we were still up just after 5am. Urgh.
Overall, I noticed that if he did a big pee right before going to sleep for the night (which he typically does), then his diaper stays dry until some time after 4am. If he does not pee before bed, he will be wet much earlier. like 11pm. I tried pottying him earlier in the night, around 1:30am. He was very resistant to the Top Hat potty or the bathroom sink at that hour and will not pee! It also caused a couple of lengthy unhappy night wakings, so no more of that!
One night I was jaded and too tired to potty him in the night. When he woke at 5am I noticed he was still dry, he had nursed already but wouldn't settle back to sleep and I didn't want to try the potty since I thought it would wake him up for the day. Instead, I prompted him to pee in his diaper saying "Its ok.... just go pee-pee in your diaper... psssssss". I was AMAZED when he actually stood up in bed, and held onto my husbands side while he squatted down and (I assume) peed in his diaper!. He then laid right back down and fell asleep for over an hour. I am still so shocked and amazed by that!
Another EC fail... one morning he woke a 5:30am or so with a dry diaper, and was fully awake for the day. I didn't turn on the lights, and tried pottying him in the Top Hat potty that I have been keeping on my nightstand. He was either peeing so much, or I had the potty at a bad angle, but it started pouring all over the floor and my feet as I as holding him over it. It was awful! Next time I will turn on the nightlight so I can see what is going on.
Overall it seems that if I can potty him around 3:30am it's the most successful time, but only if he either wakes fully or if I have already tried nursing but he is unsettled. Otherwise, I end up with an angry, awake kid in the bed who still wakes-up wet around 5am! If I do not potty him at all, he is often still dry in the morning, or has only peed one time, about an hour before wake-up. My hope is that he will be more willing to use the potty at night once he has a little more experience with that. Or, better yet, he just holds it until 6:30am most mornings. Fingers crossed.
Let me know how things are going or went for you! What are your favourite back-ups for EC? Did you find that pottying during the night helped or hindered your families sleep situation?
The final month of our first year is here! Incredible! It is really hard to believe that this wonderful little guy has only been a part of my life for a single year. On the other-hand, time has really flown by. This month's post covers the last month of Alek's first year, turning 1 year old on Dec. 20, 2018. Right smack in the middle of the busy holiday season, so I will keep this post short.
Alek went from timidly walking to running in the last month. And climbing. He is so tall now that it seems nothing is out of reach. With walking has come a huge surge in his ability to communicate; he chatters all the time and gets better every day at telling us (with pointing and little noises) exactly what he wants. In terms of EC, there was a turning point about a week before his birthday. That Friday, I had a very busy day out of the house with both kids, including a trip to the doctor, a couple of car rides, a bus and LRT ride, lunch while out, shopping and a trip to the museum. The only miss was on the way to the doctor's office. Our success that day was unexpected and totally surprising! The next several days were more of the same, very busy days, even parties in the evening, and only a couple of wet diapers for the entire day. It felt like we were in a really good groove. He still wasn't signalling for the most part, (perhaps a lazy attempt at the potty sign a couple times), but he was certainly holding his pee, knowing that I would take him to the potty in due time.
Oh! And that amazing week happened while he was cutting 8 teeth! This kid never ceases to amaze me. I also brought out his big Baby Bjorn potty, and took the little green IKEA one out of the living space since he was totally adverse to using it. On the larger potty I have about a 50-50 success rate, so I end up taking him to the bathroom sink or toilet a lot of the time anyway, but I am hoping that he will warm up to it soon.
A really big change this month has been that I have started to give him water more consistently during the day with his meals. His poops had often become quite hard and pebble-like, and adding more water and more smoothies seems to be helping them to return to a healthier consistency. The downside is that it makes timing his pees a lot more difficult. For next month it will definitely be worth doing some focused diaper-free time after meals (with water) to get a better handle on his timing and frequency of peeing then.
In the last week of the month when EC was going really well, I started using training pants with cotton pants over them while we were at home. It was really wonderful and the pants were great at keeping him warm while also absorbing some of the pee when we had a miss so that it didn't end up on the floor. Getting more training pants for home-use is definitely on my to-do list as well!
This month felt like a big deal to me for some reason. I think its because I know that some ECers transition out of diapers around this age, but we are SO not there. And I am ok with that! Especially with it being winter now. Thankfully its still pretty mild out there, but the second I have to layer pants with snowpants, wool booties with Stonz outer boots, pottying is just not going to happen once we're all dressed up! I'm actually quite sure that going forward I am going to use disposable diapers as a back-up when I know we'll be all layered-up so that Alek will stay comfortable in a dry-ish feeling diaper, plus I hope they will fit better under his snow pants!
We have had a lot of ups and downs this month as far as EC is concerned. While the month started out pretty successfully, by mid-November I was seeing a lot of wet diapers all day long! Alek started to refuse peeing on his (ex) favourite little green potty, and frequently refused to pee in the sink as well. In those cases it can be really difficult to know whether he really needed to pee but was refusing, or whether the timing was off. Whenever I strongly suspect that he needs to pee but is acting like he doesn't need to go, I change it up, trying a different environment, receptacle, position or cue. If he refuses the potty in the livingroom, I'll take him to the sink in the bathroom, if he still doesn't pee, I will try the bathtub or the toilet. I might try holding him over the toilet or sometimes with the toilet seat reducer (which I would LOVE for him to begin using more often!). For the last few days I have been catching most of the pees, and lots of success in the sink and toilet but zero on that little green potty!
For poops he is being super-resistant and for the last few weeks Alek has started pooping 3 or 4 times per day. He'll start in his diaper, I will move him to the potty (no way) then the sink and maybe he will poop a little more, but generally not. Then I'll put a diaper on him, and like an hour later he'll have a dry diaper but soiled with another stealthy poop! Its really annoying and getting more difficult to catch him in the act. Here's why I believe that its intentional... earlier this month I (two days in a row), made the mistake of removing Alek's diaper and leaving him naked while not paying attention to him. A terrible idea! Both times, even though he had already pooped a couple of times that day, and had been offered the potty before being left naked, BOTH TIMES when I came back into the room a couple minutes later, he had pooped on the floor! Poop on his hands! His feet! His legs! Toys! A book! Ewwwwwwwwwww...... I have not made that mistake again.
Two weeks ago, I decided to make some changes in the sleep department. Alek sleeps in his own room (most of the night anyway!), but for many months has been waking every two hours to nurse. I was feeling chronically sleep-deprived and needed to do something about it. Not to mention that nursing that much at night resulted in extremely wet diapers in the morning (and lots of leaks before I switched to my beloved wool diaper cover) and I assumed that he might be waking frequently in part because he needed to pee so often or because he disliked the soaking diaper feeling. Anyway, after only a couple of difficult nights I cut down night feeding from 5-6 times per night to only two! Its been a glorious change and some nights I actually get 5 hours of sleep in-a-row!!! But as an added benefit, I have removed the extra booster from his night (cloth) diaper, and he generally stays dry until 3 or 4am. In the morning his diaper is not even all that wet! I felt before that night-time EC would be way to onerous, trying to potty him every two hours on top of nursing him every two hours! But now I think I could manage it. I won't though, not yet. It is way too disruptive to remove his sleep-sac and wool pull-up type cover in order to potty him, plus when he is already upset and hungry, the last thing he wants to do is to be undressed and taken to pee! However... I have just ordered a wool sleep-sac which has the potential to act as a waterproof protector if I had him sleeping in just a sumo-style diaper (a prefold tucked into a diaper belt), or I can just be lazy about it since he doesn't seem to be bothered at all with nighttime pee and wait until spring/summer when the sleep sac becomes unnecessary.
Have you started EC with your little one? Do you practice at night or only during the day? I would love to know how EC is going for you and any tips you have about nighttime and winter time pottying! Please leave me a comment below.
I have to say that now at 10 months in, I am surprised that Alek still isn't signing for the potty! After a nearly miraculous start to our signing journey when he was only 5 months old, at 10 months he still doesn't purposefully sign for the potty. Nor does he show any other purposeful signs that I have seen 10 month olds exhibit, such as crawling to the potty or the bathroom, banging on the toilet lid etc... On the other hand, he loves to wave for "hi" and "bye" and even tries to say the words most of the time. The other signs I have been consistently trying to teach are "all done", "more" and "milk". He does not do any of these, although he has developed his own sign when he is reeeeeaaaalllyyyy hungry (he ululates using the back of his hand in front of his mouth and moving his fingers - its adorable).
I may have also discovered a signal for pee - though perhaps a little too late. For many months now I have noticed Alek occasionally doing a full-body shiver. I assumed at first that he was doing this as he was peeing since I had observed it once or twice while he was on the potty. But sometimes after a "shiver" I would check his diaper and it was dry, so I (naively) assumed that it didn't mean anything. Well.... A few weeks ago I was at a gathering and was speaking to an acquaintance of mine, when I observed her 1 year old do a 'shiver". Since they practice EC, the mom said "oh! I just saw a shiver, better get her to the potty", and off they went. Whoa! Lightbulb moment! Funnily enough, a couple of days later, I was on my Southern Alberta counterpart's facebook page (check out Go Diaper Free of Calgary here), when she posted something about signals. I mentioned the shiver and lo and behold a couple of other mom's reported seeing this one as well. Amazing! Since then, unfortunately I have only seen a couple of shivers, but they have proven to be reliable.
Despite all of that, most days we continue to have very good success at catching pees! Certain general times such as a few minutes after waking from sleep, and after coming out of the car or the high chair, and about 20-30 minutes after nursing are very reliable. Outside of that, Alek is usually really good at holding his pee until I offer the potty. Sometimes I think to myself, oh man, his diaper must be so wet by now! Then I take it off and am shocked to find it still completely dry.
As for poops, I am having less success than I would like but at the same time I think I have been learning a lot, the biggest lesson being "never ignore the grunt!". As long as Alek is within earshot, he makes an unmistakable grunt right before or as he begins to poop. Its usually just one grunt and then its too late, so you have to be on alert! There were several times this month that I was too "in my brain" and as I heard the grunt I thought to myself "was that a grunt?" or I would look at him in the eye "are you pooping?" but decide that he couldn't possibly be (because he had already gone that morning or because it didn't look like he was etc...) but in actuality he was pooping every. single. time. What is most insane about poops though is that he is also exhibiting privacy behaviour much of the time, and sometimes retreats to a place where he can stand in a deep squat to poop. Under a dining chair, or the dining table are popular spots, as well as just retreating to the living room when the rest of the family is in the kitchen, etc... It does make it a little trickier to catch, but now that I have recognized the behaviour I will be acting on it!
In my parenting life, I am the main ECer. My husband thinks it is totally amazing and is supportive of it, but he does not really participate in it unless directly asked. He is actually pretty horrible at remembering to change diapers at all and will often be holding a crying Alek "I don't know what's wrong!". I will change A's soaking diaper and SURPRISE he's happy again! Anyway... lately my husband does seem to have a 6th sense as far as poops are concerned and seems to catch more than I do! I think that this makes him feel quite proud, and it is lovely to see the way that poop (?!?!) can be a bonding experience between him and his son.
Clothing-wise nothing has changed this month except that my diaper belt is missing!!! I have also switched from "infant" to "baby" size prefolds because the infant ones are in horrible condition after years of use. I now have only 12 baby size prefolds, 4 Flapawrap inserts and 5 fitted diapers (mostly used at night) and wash every 3 to 4 days. Oh! And for nighttime I finally got a wool cover. Its been WONDERFUL. I highly recommend it. I went from regularly resorting to disposables, being sick of nighttime leaks, to absolutely no issues whatsoever. He is wearing a size large Disana cover and it is perfect for nights.
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I think that the key to a successful EC relationship is not to stress. Sometimes I have days when I'm tired (no, he doesn't sleep though the night, LOL), cranky or stressed and don't put the effort in for EC. On those days, there are A LOT more misses. And I am ok with that! No matter what, I almost always offer before sleep times and at diaper changes, and it gets us through the day, even if I have to do diaper laundry a day earlier.
One thing that Andrea Olson talks about in her book, Go Diaper Free, is that no matter what you do, you should always be consistent. To me, this doesn't mean that you aim to maintain your 90% catch-rate, no matter the circumstance, but rather that you aim to do some EC every day, as much as you (and your child) want to. And always be consistent with your communication. So if you decide not to potty because you're tired or you are not in a good location or you're not comfortable at that time, then let your baby know. And change their diaper as soon as you are able. I look at EC in a longer time frame, like I look at feeding. Did your child end up eating mainly bread and pasta today, despite being offered some veggies. Don't fret! Consider what he ate all week and you'll see that on a whole, his diet is more well-rounded than you thought. In terms of EC, maybe you missed two poops today and had a whole whack of wet diapers, oh well.... consider the whole last week. And in either case, if you are not happy with the outcome, consider how you can do better next week.
I would say that for most of this past month I was extremely happy with how EC was going, and soiled diapers (poop) seemed like a distant memory. Until one day, when Alek stealthily pooped in his diaper. And the next day when I had two half-misses for poop, and the next when he pooped in the car. And the next when he pooped right on the floor since he had a bare bum. What the heck! Looking at our 9 months of EC so far, there have been many ups and downs and I am trusting that this is another one.
A big change this month has been the weather! The end of August turned cool and grey and the sky and air was filled with smoke most days. Following that, early frosts and a few snow storms. Say it ain't so! This has gotten me thinking about the changes that I am going to need to make to keep EC going all winter. Last winter, I dressed Alek in leg-warmers most days, they stayed up fine and were as long as his entire legs. This year however, I can rarely keep them over his knees as his constant climbing and crawling causes them to slouch. Instead, I purchased myself a pair of split-pants and gave them a go. I always assumed that these would only work over a bare bum, but then I tried pairing them with a Flaparap and the combo worked surprisingly well! With the Flaparap on, the pant fabric stays open and the diaper shows. With a naked bum, the split-pants were designed with overlapping flaps to be a little discreet. It works OK, but maybe not when company is around because as soon as your child squats or sits, they expose everything! The nice part though, is that if you are using these pants during naked time at home and you have a miss, the pants tend to stay dry because of the way they open. I think that the combination of split-pants and Flaparap is going to be a favourite this fall and winter.
Finally, I did a little experiment this month since I have been really curious about the amount that babies pee and couldn't find this information anywhere. I wish I had started collecting it sooner though, because it would be cool to compare. If you want to start measuring your babies output, please post the results in the comments or send me an e-mail! Anyhow, I very unscientifically started measuring how much pee I would catch in the potty. Very surprisingly, the amount of pee was consistently 1 3/4 Oz. to 2 Oz - I measured 8 different times, sometimes before a nap sometimes right after, and any time of day. The largest pee I caught (and the only one over 2 Oz) was after a morning nap where he peed 3 Oz into the potty!
Here's hoping that we have at least one more month before all our EC babies will be wearing snow suits and pottying becomes a whole lot more complicated.
This month's progress has been super-interesting to me, because I began doing EC with my daughter when she was this age. The contrast between starting at 7 months with her and starting at 4 days old with my son has been huge. For my son, this month brought about an increased ability to hold-in urine and to release it at will. Signalling by signing is quite rare, however we are still managing to catch a lot of pee and I am finding that I can go up to 4 days between washes of my cloth diapers (not sure how good that is for the diapers though?!?!). In contrast, starting at 7 months with my daughter I found naked observation time a real trial as she would sometimes pee every 10 to 15 minutes, especially in the morning. I never did find any signals or timing that made sense and she never caught on to the ASL sign for potty. Eventually we did have a successful EC experience, but no where near the catch-rate I am achieving with my son.
After last month's poop roller-coaster, this month has brought about new changes and we are catching almost all the poops now. His bowel movements are now about every two days and since they are much thicker now, it is very obvious when he needs to "go". All of the classic signs are there, the grunting, a serious or red face etc... And catches in the toilet have been a dream; little to no clean-up! We were doing so well in fact that one day Alek began to grunt in the car. I knew right-away that it was a poop, but I hoped it wasn't! I considered pulling the car over, but with two car seats in the back and a trunk full of groceries and a stroller, I was worried about the logistics of it all. So I continued on. Well... upon arriving home, I was met with a stinky, sticky mess in his diaper which is especially bad in cloth when you have to scrape it all off and rinse (for the record all poop in disposables is supposed to be dumped into the toilet too).
I cannot imagine NOT trying to catch all the poops in the potty.... EC makes my life sooooooo much better.
Two weekends ago the four of us attended Folk Fest and I brought my top hat potty (the Tiny Baby Potty) along. I chose to use disposable diapers at the event, just to minimize what I needed to lug around, and to keep the little guy comfortable and dry-feeling in case I could not change diapers as often as usual. My plan was to pour any pee into my wet-bag, lined with a cloth or a used disposable diaper inside to absorb the wetness. It would have worked well... we tried, but we didn't catch any pees while out and about that day :(
For anyone reading this blog post who is interested in doing EC but has not started yet, just go for it! You have nothing to lose. As long as you always approach pottying with love and respect for your baby, you cannot go wrong. And if you are looking for help or support, check out the Go Diaper Free of Edmonton group on Facebook!
So... what are we wearing for EC this month? At home I am loving being "diaper-free" more and more. That doesn't mean naked, most of the time it means having Alek in a diaper without a cover. Easy to change, easy to potty and easy to see/feel when he is wet. The diaper belt/prefold is becoming a favourite for its ease but we seem to have the most success at staying dry in the fitted cloth diapers for some reason.
The photo on the left shows my super-mobile 7-month old climbing the stairs in his wool Flaparap. Up until now I did not like the way these EC diapers fit, and found changing them to be a real challenge. At 7 months and over 20 lbs I do find them a bit better but for at-home use I still prefer the simpler (and much cheaper) diaper-belt solution. Part of the challenge of these is the way that you install the pad, you kind of scoop it in from behind - which is ideal for a crawling baby, but not so simple on a non-mobile back-laying baby. I do think that Flaparaps will come in handy for trips out of the house when Alek is wearing pants, since the cover is waterproof and yet really easy to open for pottytunities wherever you are. I'll have to give that a go soon!
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7 months already! Where has the time gone? This month marked many milestones for us, Alek got 4 new teeth (8 altogether now!), he learned to crawl and to pull himself up on things. Suddenly things have gotten very busy in our household!
My goal at the end of last month was to catch more poops, as he was consistently pooping in his car seat or as soon as he wakes up from a nap! I am happy to report that we have made some gains in that area, but many of them are still ending up in his diaper. We spent two weeks in early-July at our family's lake cabin. I was hoping that this would be a good chance to focus on catching poops, especially since I knew we wouldn't be using the car much. I also had to switch from cloth to disposable diapers on the trip, as doing a ton of laundry out there is not possible. So, in addition to a supply of disposables, I took along a few large prefold diapers and a diaper belt, intending to use them for "naked time", and if he peed in them, it would be pretty simple to rinse or hand-wash them. Unexpectedly, every time I put Alek in a cloth prefold he would poop in it! p.s. washing poopy cloth in the sink is not fun.
There was one evening where he was being a bit fussy, so I stood him up on the couch beside me, as he likes to play with the blinds and look out the window. The moment I stood him up he did a huge poop in the prefold. Urgh! I suppose the fussiness was a sign, but how can you tell poop fussiness from teething, sleepiness, boredom or another kind of fussiness?
With watching timing, I was able to catch a few poops about 20 minutes after waking in the morning, but then the timing changed again. I caught a few others on the grass outside. Because his poop is still pretty runny/creamy I just cleaned the grass off with a papertowel and poured some water on it. Speaking of grass, Alek LOVES to pee in the grass. If I potty him over the grass I will get a pee about 95% of the time. There were many, many instances this month that I suspected he needed to pee but he did not go in the potty or sink, so I took him outdoors and caught a pee in the grass!
Signalling by sign-language completely stopped this month. At first I thought it would return as soon as that 8th tooth came through, but he has only signed one time for "potty" since then. I have been noticing some other things, however. Like when he is not wearing a diaper he seems to crawl off the carpet and pee on the hardwood floor (thank-you Alek!). He also looks at you a second before he begins to pee.
Overall month 6-7 has been full of changes. With eating more solids and teething, his BM's have been inconsistent and there has been a huge variety of consistency from really runny, to runny with chunks of food, to really creamy and difficult to wipe. In addition, I know that more tummy time and crawling can lead to more pee accidents because of all of the additional pressure on the bladder. New teeth, standing, an inconsistent summer schedule... there have been a fair share of misses for sure. But I am not too hard on myself. EC has always been fun for me, and although I try to catch as much as I can every day, I'm not overly serious about it, I just hope that overall we succeed at communication and over the months we are able to increase our success rate.
Alek is a really big boy for his age, and weighs more than 20lbs. This month his preferred potty spots have been the sink or over the grass, but I am finding it difficult to hold him in the classic EC pose for a long time. In addition, his creamier poops are difficult to clean from the cloth diaper before putting in the wash, and now must be cleaned from the sink too (exclusively breastfed poops can easily be washed down the sink). So I have tried to introduce the Baby Bjorn Potty Chair as his main potty in the livingroom, as well as an IKEA toilet seat reducer in the main bathroom. Although he sits on both of these very comfortably, he has refused to eliminate on either one. I have managed to catch a few pees in the bowl of the chair potty when placed between my legs like a Top Hat potty but that is all. The Top Hat potties on the other hand, are getting less comfortable to use as he gets larger and heavier. I am phasing out using the one I have at home, but will continue with it as a car/travel potty in my diaper-bag.
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In Alek's 6th month, something amazing happened. Ok wait, we're talking about a baby here... something amazing is always happening! But seriously people; Alek learned to sign. When he was 4 months old, I began teaching him the sign for potty. Usually when I was holding him on the tophat potty, I would cue him with the "pssss" noise that I use for pee, and then when he started to actually go, I would hold up my right fist and show him the ASL sign for potty, saying something like "pee-pee in the potty". Sometimes I would do the sign in other places while he was peeing but it was generally easiest on the little potty. About two weeks after introducing the sign for potty, I also introduced the sign for "milk" in a similar manner. While he was nursing I would say "milk" while showing him the sign. Sometimes I would ask, would you like some milk? Showing the sign when I said the word milk. On May 27th (I know the date, because we were celebrating my daughter's birthday party), I was in the kitchen preparing supper when I heard Alek begin to shout in the living room. His grandmother was holding him, so I let it continue for a little bit while I finished whatever I was doing. By that time, Alek was nearly frantic. I walked into the living room and he looked me right in the eyes and did something with his fist. I couldn't tell if it was intentional though, and no one else seemed to have noticed. I picked him up from his grandma's arms, sat down on the couch and opened my shirt to nurse, he latched on quickly and then held up his hand, looked at me and started making the sign for "milk". It was one of the most incredible things ever!
Soon after that he also began to sign for potty. Generally he will look right at me, and hold up his fist in a very deliberate way, rotating it back and forth slowly, it is quite unmistakable. If I potty him right at that time, I will usually catch a pee, although sometimes I think he is signing while peeing, or to ask me to please change his diaper! One day, we were visiting my grandparents (who are in their mid-80's). As we were talking, Alek looked at me and made the potty sign. My grandmother had to ask what that was about, as I said... the sign is very intentional. I told her that it means he needs to use the toilet! Then I went ahead and let him pee in their bathroom (sink). Boy were they impressed! And this from a grandmother who says all 7 of her kids were potty-trained before they were 18 months old!
A day or two after that impressive signing at my grandparents, all signing stopped. It was noticeable to me because Alek had gotten into the habit of signing "milk" at every opportunity. Tired? "milk"... Bored? "milk"... Upset? "milk"... you get the picture. So it was quite an abrupt change that there was no more signing at all. That's when I realized that his two front top teeth were coming in. Miraculously about a day after they popped through, the signing started-up as abruptly as it had ended! We had another 2 weeks or so of awesome communication and signing, then bam! About 3 days ago signing stopped and I see the next-to-middle bottom AND top teeth coming in.
Another big change this month has been introducing Alek to food. We are doing baby-led-weaning this time, so basically just sitting him at the table with us and letting him eat whatever we eat (so long as it is not dangerous or unhealthy for him, of course). He is not eating a ton, but is loving meal-times! And his poop has already started to change. Unfortunately we are in the peanut-butter poop phase and it keeps ending up in the diaper. Alek's favourite poop spot is still the car-seat, so this is something I would like to work on changing this month. I think now that school is over for the year and we no longer have to do the twice-daily kindergarten run, it should get much easier to catch poops.
Earlier in the month I gave night pottying a good try. I found it really tough and unpredictable, especially because Alek is very resistant to the potty when he wakes (and is crying!), so the only way to catch a pee is to nurse at the same time. If he is going to pee, it seems to come at the very second that he calms and begins to nurse. No time for adjustments! When I tried this with the top hat potty it was really awkward, I couldn't see well, and pee went everywhere :( At this moment in time, I am content catching the last pee before bed (which we are having success with again!), and leaving it at that. He wakes quite often in the night and I am way too tired to be alert enough for pottying. Plus, he is nursing quite a bit at night, which means he pees A LOT too. My focus for now will be to reduce night-waking (thereby reducing night feeding), and then I will give night pottying another shot. A friend swears by the Baby Bjorn potty insert for night pottying, so I will have to give that a try!
One final development this month has been that when I potty him in the sink (in front of the bathroom mirror), Alek pees in spurts. Sometimes little pees come out three to eight times before he is done. He looks down at his penis and watches as each squirt comes out, and seems to be controlling them! If I give-up and take him away from the sink too early, he lets me know using the potty sign, and I return him to the sink to finish.
Gear that we are using this month:
Still using the top hat potty at home and when out, its still seems a bit small but does the trick.
Pottying in nature is working great! Just pee on a tree :) This will be trickier now that I should start thinking about cleaning up after him if he poops.
The little green IKEA potty (pictured above). This is the perfect size for my chunky guy!
I'm using a small Peapod Mat as an on-the-go change pad and the larger sizes as waterproofing anywhere and everywhere!
As a reference, the Go Diaper Free book is the best resource around for EC.
For clothing I have been lazy and have not changed a thing.
It has been said that the best and easiest time to start EC is when your child is between 0 to 4 months old. I have to say that I agree! The first 4 months were wonderful, and quite a different experience than starting at 7 months like I did with my daughter. It has been a great bonding experience, as I have mentioned in past posts, and I felt really in-tune with my babies needs in those early months. This past month however, was quite frustrating. There were many more wet diapers, pants and mats than there were catches in the potty and if anything, I felt very out of sync with him, no matter what I tried.
I do not think that the most frustrating thing was realizing that I had missed a pee and his diaper was wet, it was the consistent misses as I was removing his diaper, or less than 5 minutes after offering him the potty. For example, at the beginning of the month Alek and I met up with some friends for coffee. He had nursed right before leaving the house, then went into the car seat and fell asleep there on the way to the café. I transferred him into the carrier upon arriving, and he slept for nearly an hour there. When he woke I waited several minutes before taking him to the bathroom. And when I opened his diaper it was dry – so I was confident that it was indeed “potty time”. The café had private washrooms, so I held him over the sink and cued him. I waited quite a while but no pee came, so I put his diaper back on. After I used the toilet, I thought I would try pottying him again (less than 2 minutes after the first try), but his diaper was already soaked.
Many other times this month, I would take him to the sink or offer the tophat potty with no luck but then he would pee just a few minutes later. For about 3 weeks our unfortunate routine was the following: I would offer the potty (no pee/poop), then lay him down naked on a waterproof mat. He would very quickly roll on to his belly, and within minutes would be lying in a big wet spot of pee. Alternatively, I would offer the potty (no pee/poo), replace his diaper or training pants and then put him in his bouncy chair. Again, within a few minutes he would pee or very commonly, poop. Signals were pretty much non-existent. Often he would be in my lap or my arms and would pee (in training pants), the wetness being the only clue that it had happened.
It did occur to me during all this that I could possibly improve my catch-success by offering the potty once and then again 5 minutes later (if there was no pee yet), but this was often hard to do since I was typically making a meal or helping my older child with something and would miss the chance. Also, unless I knew that a pee was imminent, I did not want to get into the habit of over-offering, and possibly creating resistance to pottying (this is definitely a concern as children get older). Another thing that I realized is that Alek’s timing is changing and he is also peeing less frequently than he used to - especially during this heat wave that we are having.
After quite a lot of observation, I am at a loss for discovering with any accuracy a certain timing for pees after eating and/or sleeping. Sometimes he pees almost immediately after the event, and other times needs ten minutes or more before he pees. In the morning, I have noticed that he pees quite frequently. In the evening, however, he pees much less often, and I can no longer catch a pee right before his nighttime sleep, which had been our habit for so many months. Because of these inconsistencies I am realizing that it is time for me to “get out of my head” and rely less on timing, hopefully becoming more in-tune with whatever subtle signals that Alek might be giving out.
For the last 5 weeks Alek and I were fortunate enough to be able to participate in an infant massage course from Pure Love Infant Massage. The course was excellent. I learned a lot and enjoyed the chance to spend some quiet, focused one-on-one time with Alek. In terms of EC, the course, and practicing at home too, helped me to hone-in on the more subtle and physical aspects of Alek's cues. For example, while practicing the tummy massage one afternoon, Alek became quite fussy, attempting to roll over while I was massaging him. Then I felt his tummy flex right before he began to pee! Because I usually massage him while he's naked, I am hyper-aware of any signals, and of course pottying a naked baby is super-easy! While in the past I have not enjoyed "passive" naked observation time so much, I think that more "active" observation, while massaging or bathing, or playing with him is very worthwhile and enjoyable.
As a more positive end to this month, we are getting back on track with EC! This past week we caught a lot more pees in the potty and I have discovered that Alek likes to pee outdoors. I think my catch rate is around 100% when I am squatting, holding him in the classic EC pose, over grass. At this point, even if he poops a little in the grass, I am just covering it up with some grass or leaves, or even dumping a bit of water on it - as his bowel movements are still liquid and completely water soluble at this point. I have also introduced the American Sign Language sign for "Toilet", generally when we actually catch something (whether in the potty, grass, sink or wherever he is going) in the hopes that soon he will begin signing to let me know that it is potty-time. My hope is to introduce a few other signs next month as well.
We've had our ups and downs this month for sure, but overall the first 4 months of EC have been wonderful. In the busyness of family life, especially when you have older children to tend to, it is a gift to practice EC. It is a reminder to pause and give your focused attention on your baby, even for only a few minutes. But these pauses are fairly frequent (compared to the routine of regular, non-EC diapering) - and allow parents to check-in with baby regularly to consider his or her needs beyond hunger, boredom and sleepiness. I have definitely been blessed with a calm and content baby - but I also really believe that a part of his contentedness is because of EC.
Alek is nearly always in a dry diaper (or no diaper at all) and because of that, aside from a bit of redness, he doesn't have a diaper rash, so he is dry and comfortable. Secondly, he is never gassy or constipated - this may not be entirely due to EC - but because I am holding him in a deep squat position (the easiest and best position for humans to poop in) dozen's of times per day, any gas or poop comes out frequently. Finally, when he's crying and there is no "obvious" reason why (ie. he's not hungry, tired, bored or hurt), I know that his diaper is either wet or dirty or he needs to use the potty. Either way, after a change and a potty, he's usually back to his contented self again.
A week after Alek turned 3 months old, I had to strip all my cloth diapers; a lengthy process that involves washing, soaking, sterilizing and the washing them again a few more times. I had just purchased some second-hand diapers and many of my old ones must have had build-up remaining from when my daughter used them, because they were beginning to stink! It took over 12 hours to complete the process, and the diapers weren't quite dry for bed time. I ended-up having my most successful EC day ever, and managed to go a whole day using only 1 large prefold diaper, 1 pair of training pants and 3 disposables (including the one he wore to bed). Considering that both the training pants and 1 disposable were retired because of some drips of runny baby poop (but no pee) in them, I think that's pretty incredible! Amazing what one can accomplish when the need (and challenge) arises.
Despite that super-successful day with lots of catches, we have also had a number of "off" days where it seems that Alek and I are just not in-sync EC-wise. Those days when he begins to pee as I am taking off this diaper, or I catch nothing in the potty but he pees 2 minutes later on the floor, or even some days where almost every diaper was wet and very few pees ended-up in the potty.
Last month I talked a bit about Alek's emerging signals - mainly crying out uncomfortably - and was looking forward to building on that this month. Unfortunately, his signals have retreated for the most part this month, even for poops which I find surprising! I wonder if this could be a natural part of his development, as I have been following the "Wonder Weeks" and these last 5 weeks he has been progressing through mental leap 4. Perhaps as his world rights itself, his signals will return or become more overt. I've also just noticed his two bottom front teeth starting to break through, so its possible he is a little preoccupied at the moment!
A funny example about this lack of signals happened yesterday... I had taken off Alek's poopy diaper, offered him the potty (too hastily perhaps), and then just placed a prefold diaper under his naked bum so that I could carry him to the kitchen. I was standing at the computer that lives on our kitchen island, holding Alek in my left arm, controlling the mouse with my right. Then suddenly, with not a wiggle nor a peep, a huge gush of poop flew out of Alek's bum and onto the floor, completely bypassing the prefold somehow! What the heck???
In another unfortunate turn of events this month, Alek has developed Eczema on his torso and a bit on the sides of his head. When moisturizing didn't help, I decided to get him some baby probiotics which we started one week ago. Ever since his first dose I have noticed a big increase in the number of poops he takes in a day, sometimes he will poop 4-5 times in one morning! With this increase in poops, my catch rate has gone way down. Even if I'm catching several poops per day, several more are ending up in a diaper.
Another interesting development this month is Alek's increased dexterity and ability to move! By his 4-month birthday he can roll both ways and somehow manages to turn in circles as well. Sadly, his grabby little hands have discovered his genitals and every time I have him naked he is grabbing them so hard I am worried that he is going to hurt himself! Therefore, clothing-wise I am trying to keep him in something for the most part. Generally a cloth fitted with no cover, training pants or a cloth prefold with or without a cover.
Alek's dad is finally getting a little more comfortable trying EC and has made a few catches. Although he is not as enthusiastic about it as I am, I know that he sees the value in it and is amazed by our successes!
This week is the 6th Annual Go Diaper Free Week and all about helping you begin a diaper-free reality with your little one - at any age. There are contests, free on-line classes and more being offered by Andrea Olson over at Go Diaper Free, so check it out! In honour of this week, I am also going to hold a contest and the winner will receive a copy of the tiny potty board book (including shipping anywhere in Canada)! All you need to do to enter is to "like" the pinned post on Wee Potty's Facebook Page and comment on this or any one of my blog posts between now and Saturday April 28th, 2018. The winner will be tagged in a Facebook post and sent a personal message on Sunday April 29th, 2018.